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17 Jun 2015 - GECAS to be launch customer of 737-800SF freighter conversion.

US lessor GECAS has become the first customer to sign for Aeronautical Engineers’ freighter conversion programme for the Boeing 737-800. (see below for technical details).

Aeronautical Engineers formally launched the programme last year.

GECAS’s Cargo Aircraft Group has disclosed, during the Paris air show, that it intends to convert up to 20 of its passenger 737-800s to freighters.

Conversion will be undertaken at Aeronautical Engineers’ modification centres in China and the USA, beginning next year.

GECAS says it expects the modified aircraft to achieve US FAA supplemental type certification in 2017 at which point the 737-800SF will be offered for lease as a freighter.

The lessor’s executive vice-president for specialty markets, Christopher Damianos, says the company believes the type will be a “best-in-class” aircraft for replacement and expansion in the single-aisle cargo sector.

Cargo Aircraft Group has previously opted to convert 737-300s and -400s to freighters, and its portfolio of cargo jets also includes larger freighter types.

Aeronautical Engineers says that securing GECAS as the launch customer for the -800 conversion will offer the lessor a “high residual value solution” for its -800 fleet.

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*** Updated 14 Nov 2021 ***

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The Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) B737-800SF Cargo Conversion consists of the installation of a 86" x 140" cargo door on the left side of the fuselage, and modificationn of main deck to a Class E cargo compartment.  After conversion the aircraft can carry eleven 88" x 125" AAA full height containers or pallets plus one AEP/AEH, with pallet weights up to 9,000 lbs.

The cargo door is hydraulically operated and actuated from the inside of the aircraft by a independent system.  Hydraulic pressure is available from two sources: a 28VDC electrically operated hydraulic pump or a manual hand pump.  The door control and manual pump are located on the 9g barrier, allowing a single person to operate the door manually.

Main Attributes

  • Can accommodate eleven 88"x125" AAA full height containers or pallets plus one AEP/AEH
  • Up to 52,000 LB (23,587 KG) Main Deck Payload (depending on Model & Aircraft Weight Limits)
  • Reinforced Floor structure for highest average position weights in industry
  • 86" x 140" cargo door
  • Single Vent Door System
  • High reliability, 28VDC, independent cargo door hydraulic system
  • Cabin windows replaced with lightweight aluminum window plugs
  • 9g rigid cargo / smoke barrier with sliding door
  • Relocated DFDR for 84.5" + ceiling height through out cargo compartment, including last position
  • Stretch Formed fuselage skins
  • Up to 5 Supernumerary Seats
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